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Trio of courses to host Valley Championship

Three courses, three days, three champions.That will be the format for the inaugural Valley Championship, a three-day, individual stroke-play golf tournament at three local courses with a men’s, women’s and senior’s champion.The tournament came about when Lakota Canyon Ranch Golf Club pro Tom Underwood approached Rifle Creek Golf Club pro Tad Holloway and River Valley Ranch Golf Club pro Zack Ray about a valley-wide golf competition.”The three of us got together and were looking to do an event with all three golf courses in the valley where we could have an actual valley champion who can play and compete against everyone in the valley,” said Underwood, who organized a similar event as a pro at a golf course in North Carolina.The best part of the tournament, according to Underwood, is the variety of play in each course.”The courses are so different. Rifle is more classic, old style. River Valley is in between and Lakota is more of a new age,” Underwood said. “So with all three, you have totally different aspects of golf, every one has its own niche.”The tournament will start Oct. 6 with 18 holes of play at Lakota Canyon in New Castle. LCRGC, designed by Jim Engh, is a par 72, 7,111-yard course with a varied landscape featuring ridges, canyons and seven holes with water hazards. Long drivers could capitalize at Lakota if they can launch the ball straight down several downhill holes, but beware of hole No. 18 where golfers must shoot up, cross a ravine and then go back across the ravine again, according to the “Colorado Golf Bible.””At Lakota, you have to think about every shot, you have to target your shot,” Underwood said. “You can’t take out your driver and just bomb away.”On Saturday, participants will head to River Valley Ranch in Carbondale for another round of golf. Seven holes cross or line the Crystal River on this par 72, 7,348-yard, Jay Morrish-designed course, providing challenging shots and beautiful scenery. Risk takers who play Phil Mickelson-style golf can be rewarded, or punished, according to the “Colorado Golf Bible” on the course full of make-or-break chances.”Rifle and Lakota are more mountain-style courses and River Valley Ranch is more of a links-style course,” said Ray, who credits Underwood with the idea for the event. “It is a little flatter and longer. I think the length makes River Valley a little tougher.”Sunday will showcase the final round, to be played at Rifle Creek. RCGC, a par 72, 6,235-yard course, entails a more traditional, open, flat front nine, which was built by Jimmy LaDonne in 1960. Dick Phelps added the rugged, rocky, up-and-down back nine in 1989, a more challenging part of the course that includes the No. 14 hole with elevated tee boxes built by railroad ties.The entry fee for players is $225 and includes three days of golf with a cart, tournament hats, trophies, meals and gift certificates.The tournament is open to all Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield County Residents.Organizers are expecting a strong turnout and hope this will be the first of many years of its existence.

When: Oct. 6-8. Where: Lakota Canyon Ranch Golf Club on Oct. 6, River Valley Ranch Golf Club on Oct. 7 and Rifle Creek Golf Club on Oct. 8. Who: The tournament is open to all Eagle, Pitkin and Garfield County Residents. Cost: $225 (includes three days of golf with a cart, tournament hats, trophies, meals and gift certificates). Information: LCRGC: 984-9700; RVRGC: 963-3625; RCGC: 625-1093.


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